Viking River Cruise Air

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#1
Northern Virginia
1,018 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Has anyone used VRC's air arrangements? I am curious to know what kind of flights you were given and if they have air deviation with possible upgrading of seats? We already had to make final payment on the total of the trip, which isn't until May 2013 (not sure if I will book this cruiseline again because of this). We are paying $1397 pp RT from the Washington DC area. If they do have air deviation, do you know what the extra charges might be.

Thanks for your help!!
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katz

#2
Northern Virginia
1,018 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Forgot to say this river cruise is in China.
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katz

#3
Elmwood Park, NJ, USA
340 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
We are sailing in November with Viking. Used their Choice Air which was $50 pp and were able to pick our own flights.
#4
12 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Hi Katz,
We booked our Paris River cruise with air through Viking.
I paid for the "custom air" and it was worth it.
I had researched the air arrangement that I wanted.
And then I told them what I wanted for air arrangements.
They were sending mefrom Toronto / Chicigo /Paris.
I told them I wanted Direct Toroto to Paris and return the same way.
That is the way I am going.
Ask for custom air.
Have a nice trip
Paul
#6
9,375 Posts
Joined May 2009
There's a difference between Viking's "custom air" and a "deviation." The former lets you speak to a human and tell her the flights you would prefer. (Otherwise a computer will spit them out, and you could be very inconvenienced.). But even with custom air, there is no guarantee you will get what you want, but your chances are greater.

An air deviation is a separate per person charge to arrive or depart on a day that is not Viking's arrival or departure day. When we went to China with Viking last year, booked in 2010, the air deviation fee would have been $100pp (and on top of that you would have to pay your own airport transfers because you wouldn't be there with a Viking group).

We wanted to arrive in Beijing three days early and booked our own air using frequent flyer miles.

The trip was extraordinary, and if you haven't already visited the "Viking China" threads, I would urge you to do so. There's a wealth of info there, and people who have been to China with Viking will be happy to answer your questions. I would strongly recommend arriving early, not only because it's such a long flight, but also to see more of your arrival city, particularly if it's Beijing, which is an amazing city.
#7
Welland Ontario Canada
54 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by katz
Has anyone used VRC's air arrangements? I am curious to know what kind of flights you were given and if they have air deviation with possible upgrading of seats? We already had to make final payment on the total of the trip, which isn't until May 2013 (not sure if I will book this cruiseline again because of this). We are paying $1397 pp RT from the Washington DC area. If they do have air deviation, do you know what the extra charges might be.

Thanks for your help!!

Custom Air can be purchased even if the final payment has been made on your trip. We are going next Sept 2013 on Viking's China Explorer, haven't asked for Custom Air but was told we could still get it. Since we are flying from Toronto, a direct flight would be better. Good Luck!! And, I agree, paying a year and more in advance is the pits!!
#8
Northern Virginia
1,018 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Thanks, Turtle and 79. I have been pouring over the China thread and have picked up a lot of good information. I wish the roll calls were more active, but I guess with the small amount of passengers and having everything already planned out there isn't much need for one.

So----if I use Choice air, does that mean that I get to choose my flights and can still use VRC's meet and greet transfers? Do they give you a list of flights that they approve of? Are the flights that they arrange inconvenient, i.e lots of flight changes and long layovers?

Is air deviation just for people who want to fly in early? I am o.k. flying in th same day. I just don't want to get bounced all over the world and be exhausted before I even get started.

Thanks for your help!!
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katz

#9
9,375 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by katz
Thanks, Turtle and 79. I have been pouring over the China thread and have picked up a lot of good information. I wish the roll calls were more active, but I guess with the small amount of passengers and having everything already planned out there isn't much need for one.

So----if I use Choice air, does that mean that I get to choose my flights and can still use VRC's meet and greet transfers? Do they give you a list of flights that they approve of? Are the flights that they arrange inconvenient, i.e lots of flight changes and long layovers?

Is air deviation just for people who want to fly in early? I am o.k. flying in th same day. I just don't want to get bounced all over the world and be exhausted before I even get started.

Thanks for your help!!
The percentage of travelers on CC is very small, so considering the size of a river cruise, it's very unlikely you'll have many folks (if any) on a Roll Call. That's why folks tend to gravitate to things like the "Viking China" thread.

I do believe that "air deviation" applies only if you want to "deviate" from the Viking schedule, so if you are happy getting in on the Viking arrival day, you wouldn't need the deviation. (My feeling on this is that we were going so far, I wanted to see as much as I could. Beijing is an amazing city, and Viking does not and cannot cover all the highlights. I am SO glad we flew in a few days early. Also, even a nonstop flight from the East Coast is about 14 hours, so you'll be tired even if Viking hasn't bounced you around with a few connections. And there's jet lag of course.)

If you are using Viking Air, you'll definitely want to spend the $50pp for "Custom Air" so you can talk to them and give them your flight preferences. They have contracts with various airllines and have booked cheap seats, so they can't always get you what you want. But without Custom Air, you'll get what their computer wants to give you, and it may not be a nonstop from Dulles to Beijing!

Re airport transfers: using Viking Air with no deviation (that is, arriving and departing on the Viking arrival and departure days), your airport transfers will be included. (I would not let this drive the train on when you plan to arrive or depart, if you decide to arrive early or stay over.)
#10
San Diego, California
577 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Originally posted by katz
So----if I use Choice air, does that mean that I get to choose my flights and can still use VRC's meet and greet transfers? Do they give you a list of flights that they approve of? Are the flights that they arrange inconvenient, i.e lots of flight changes and long layovers?
After reading the Viking China thread we had heard more about poor flight times than bad routing through Viking standard air so we figured it was worth the $100 (for 2 of us) in the big picture to at least speak with them. It allowed us to pick flights and times and even upgrade the filghts to the Plus seating with additional space for only the difference in price.

We did this some time ago so I'm sure the market availability helped us at that time to have a big selection. I've read of plenty of people who were more than happy with what Viking had arranged for them with no intervention but you won't know until it could be too late to have many options.

Transfers are included if you use Viking for the air _and_ if you arrive and depart the days the tour begins and ends. If you wish another day then you'll need to arrange your own transportation.
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#11
Philadelphia
2 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
We used their air - it just was easier. We are on Delta from PHL - we have to change planes in JFK, then direct to Prague. Coming home, 2 changes - Budapest to Paris to JFK to PHL. Not the greatest, but it is what it is. Be careful about the dates, however - we are going to Prague for the 3 day add-on in the beginning and they booked the wrong day. They changed it, but only changed the PHL to JFK - good thing I checked! The change was easy, but just make sure they get the dates right!
#12
Los Angeles
72 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by katz
Has anyone used VRC's air arrangements? I am curious to know what kind of flights you were given and if they have air deviation with possible upgrading of seats? We already had to make final payment on the total of the trip, which isn't until May 2013 (not sure if I will book this cruiseline again because of this). We are paying $1397 pp RT from the Washington DC area. If they do have air deviation, do you know what the extra charges might be.

Thanks for your help!!
Make sure you follow up with Viking or your travel agent and request to be involved in the air decisions way in advance. We asked to pay the $50 air deviation fee but the TA never charged us. We didn't catch it because she assured us she would work with us on it. By the time I called it was too late. We are so disappointed. This is our first Viking cruise and we had a TA who was not responsive. All our own fault for not being more demanding.
#13
Northern Virginia
1,018 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Thanks Maredog.

We have a great TA and he is going to set up a conference call with Viking, so that we can make our air arrangements with all three parties involved.

Thanks for your help.
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katz

#14
Los Angeles
72 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by katz
Thanks Maredog.

We have a great TA and he is going to set up a conference call with Viking, so that we can make our air arrangements with all three parties involved.

Thanks for your help.
Perfect! That is the way it should be!
#15
East Coast
17 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by katz
Thanks Maredog.

We have a great TA and he is going to set up a conference call with Viking, so that we can make our air arrangements with all three parties involved.

Thanks for your help.
Katz,

As you're working with a TA, you'll be happy with the conference call with Viking. We're on the 11/11 Imperial Jewels of China and paid for Custom Air several months after we paid for our trip. We went online, found flights we preferred, then called Viking and were able to book good flights in and out of Dulles on United. The person we talked to at Viking about the flight arrangements was very helpful and pleasant. Well worth the extra $50 per person. After the flights were booked, we upgraded ourselves via the United website from Economy to Economy Plus which we decided would be worth it for such long flights.
#16
Northern Virginia
1,018 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Thanks, Ryan. My plan is to find a few flights on United, out of Dulles, and let our TA know they are our choices and hope they are ones VRC uses. We already know that we want to upgrade our seats to EP, so I will also pick out the seats that we want.

I am hoping that since we have already paid for the trip and airfare in full, that they will book our tickets now and we don't have to worry about getting the seats we want.

Thanks again for your input.
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katz

#17
FLorida
381 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Originally posted by Ryan55
Katz,

As you're working with a TA, you'll be happy with the conference call with Viking. We're on the 11/11 Imperial Jewels of China and paid for Custom Air several months after we paid for our trip. We went online, found flights we preferred, then called Viking and were able to book good flights in and out of Dulles on United. The person we talked to at Viking about the flight arrangements was very helpful and pleasant. Well worth the extra $50 per person. After the flights were booked, we upgraded ourselves via the United website from Economy to Economy Plus which we decided would be worth it for such long flights.


I second this opinion - Custom air is fantastic, much better to be able to book the flights you want - we are on the Viking China tour leaving August 29th, 2012 - and having been to China just last month and taking a similar flight on the same carrier for this upcoming trip, I found that it is VERY much worth the extra $159 (or whatever the charge is) to upgrade to Economy Plus via the United website, if they are your air carrier. On such a long-haul flight, those extra few inches of legroom are priceless!

Enjoy your cruise!
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Lori
#18
East Coast
17 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by katz
Thanks, Ryan. My plan is to find a few flights on United, out of Dulles, and let our TA know they are our choices and hope they are ones VRC uses. We already know that we want to upgrade our seats to EP, so I will also pick out the seats that we want.

I am hoping that since we have already paid for the trip and airfare in full, that they will book our tickets now and we don't have to worry about getting the seats we want.

Thanks again for your input.
Hi Katz,

Just FYI - We're doing Beijing to Shanghai and Viking got us the non-stop Dulles to Beijing flight and then for the return, Shanghai to San Francisco and San Fran to Dulles. (I don't think there's a non-stop Shanghai to Dulles). All United. We were particularly pleased to get the non-stop to Beijing.
#20
BC, Canada
39 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I agree with Lori Dobson that Viking custom air is fantastic. Right after they confirmed our booking, we were even able to go into the BA website and change our assigned seat selections. A couple of months after that, we wanted to change our flight to an earlier one because of the Olympics, for a longer connection time at Heathrow to Helsinki. The pleasant Viking representative answering the phone did that for us within ten minutes. We are extremely happy with Viking custom air and would have no hesitation recommending it. Also, don't forget that when you book air with Viking, you get free transfers as well from airport to ship and ship to airport!

Belaire